Let the (Social Media) Madness Begin…

We’ve let you down. It’s not for a lack of desire.

As economic development professionals, we often talk about community engagement — whether that’s through public forums, surveys, client case studies, etc. However, there’s one community we always have on our minds — a community we hold near and dear to our hearts, that, at times, is neglected – our social community. You. And, again, as economic development professionals, we all know what happens when a community is neglected, and are working to change this. Beginning now. Continue reading “Let the (Social Media) Madness Begin…”

Do We Need the FTC for Social Media Transparency?

The following is a post from our team’s former blog: Economic Architecture, active from October 2009 – September 2010. While we have elected to re-share this information, some details and links may be a bit outdated. While it’s still a good read, you’ve been warned.  🙂


An article released yesterday by the Pittsburgh Business Times disclosed a number of local businesses who are adopting corporate policies relative to social media efforts and online activities. With the FTC including “new media” as part of their application of the FTCA as of December 1 in an ongoing effort to push corporate transparency coupled with Bayer Corporation‘s Twitter news feed and social media policy launching shortly after the birth of 2010, the relevancy of this topic is, again, forced to the headlines.

In the article, Bryan Iams, head of strategic and external communications for Bayer, keeps their social media policy very simple, stating:

“It’s not as if there are brand new guides or instructions to employees, but this is another vehicle that, if they are representing the company, they need to be mindful of what proper behavior is.”

Simple enough. I wonder if this is corporate shtick or if the employees feel the same way. Without actually reading the 13 pages of guidelines, it’s hard to understand the severity of these new policies. But, with this quote, it appears that Bayer has established guidelines for social media and online use when representing the Bayer corporate entity. Seems fair. Kudos to any company or organization using social media and understanding enough about it to further monitor their online reputation and enforce policy to keep their name clean. Less headaches that way (pun intended).

In the same article, Richard Cleland, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s division of advertising, states that the FTC’s new media guides for companies are simply restating old advertising policies and applying them to social media:

“What we are doing is applying the same rules that apply to advertising and media to advertising in the word-of-mouth and social media area. Those rules relate to truth in advertising and transparency, and that simply because this is a novel format, that doesn’t mean different rules apply.”

Again, this seems reasonable. Disclosing endorsements, corporate connections and the like are a reasonable way to keep things, dare I say, transparent. You can see evidence of this transparency all over social media. In fact, it’s what keeps it alive.

Developing your online marketing strategy requires a presence of community. Without community, the social network would fail. The community relies on a foundation of trust. Without trust, the community would fail and the network would fail. If your online presence exists merely to hock your wares…people are going to see through your scheming and your community will be a community of one.

However, if you are a trusted and contributing member of a community, people will find value in what you say, what you do and what you share. From this aspect, the FTC guidelines are really only a safety net. Chances are that most companies and individuals who do not disclose their endorsements, connections and partners will be discovered quickly and called out by those valued members contributing to online communities.

FTC…I don’t think we need it for this. Do you?